Exploring Athen’s Bustling Central Market

Athen’s Central Market is a hive of activity. From early morning to late afternoon, this bustling market is a window on everyday life in the city.

Also known as the Varvakios Agora, Athen’s Central Market has been part of the city’s history for a long time. It was rebuilt on this site in 1886 after fire destroyed the original building. The markets were refurbished for the Olympics in 2004 when refrigeration units were installed to make them compliant with European Union laws.

Athens Central Market

Even with this modernisation, the market still offers glimpses of a life as it was. The meat and fish markets are both in the covered market.


The Meat Market

Athens Central Market

Athens Central Market

In the meat market, generations of butchers have worked the same small stall. The old wooden chopping blocks are reminder of the old days but today the meat is displayed in a modern refrigeration unit. Often the butcher will specialise in one animal with every part of the animal on display and sold

Athens Central Market


Athens Central Market


Athens Central Market


The Fish Market

The fish market is next door. That familiar fishy smell greets you long before you start to wander the aisles that are awash with water from the melting ice. There are a few imported frozen lines here but on the whole, the fish are fresh..some are even still wriggling!

Athens Central Market

It’s a noisy place…the vendors call out the daily specials, each trying to be heard over the other creating a fabulous atmosphere to lose yourself in.

Athens Central Market

Interestingly there is one non fish seller in amongst the fish stalls but no one knows how or why he is here.


The Fruit and Vegetable Market

Across the road is the uncovered vegetable market. The fresh vegetables are all beautifully displayed. We watched one vendor polish each piece of fruit and meticulously add it to his display.

Athens Central Market


Athens Central Market


Athens Central Market


We were here in Spring… the season for pomegranates, persimmons, grapes and of course those luscious juicy red tomatoes that taste like no other tomato! There were huge leeks about half a metre long, massive flat cabbages similar to those we saw in Turkey and peppers of every size and shape.

Athens Central Market

You could buy fresh olives here to put in brine yourself but if you were feeling lazy, next door was selling any type of olive you desired. I have never seen so many different types of olives…..we counted forty two varieties.  Our particular favourites were the very large ones and the small crinkled ones which were delicious…names unknown!

Olives at Athens Central Market



Olives at Athens Central Market


Over the road, fresh eggs were availble.

Egg sellers at Athens Central Market

Spice and cheese shops lined the footpath in front of the covered market and down the side streets extending the market area but these are the subject of another post. Stay tuned!


Other articles you may like:
Udaipur Markets
Rue Montorgueil Food Market
Pickle Heaven in Istanbul
Palermo’s Capo Market



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12 Responses to Exploring Athen’s Bustling Central Market

  1. Rahman @ Destination Iran January 14, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

    Everything seems so fresh at your photos. Thanks for sharing them.

    Somewhere halfway down the post, I was about to be disappointed as a vegetarian, but there came my section – Fruits and vegetables! They are beautiful. Thank you so much to include this part as well. It’s part of my nature that I can’t help it. I love the color, look and taste of vegetables.

    • Jenny Freedman January 16, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

      It’s a pleasure Rahman. The fruit and vegetable markets are always the ones that catch my eye. The produce is so fresh…the tomatoes here tasted like real tomatoes. How do they compare to Iran? I don’t remember the markets from my visit there eons ago!

      • Rahman @ Destination Iran January 16, 2015 at 10:53 pm #

        Usually what looks good, doesn’t necessarily taste nice. Actually, old organic tomatoes were best without looking so good. They smelled great and their taste was wonderful.

        Many travelers who come to Iran appreciate it and say they taste like “real tomatoes”, just as you put it!

        • Jenny Freedman January 16, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

          I can relate to your sentiments on produce that looks good often doesn’t taste so good! I think that is often a world wide problem. Tomatoes are a good benchmark don’t you think! Central Turkey is a fabulous food bowl for their country and I’d be surprised that Iran wasn’t very similar. One day I will see and taste for myself!

          • Rahman @ Destination Iran January 16, 2015 at 11:03 pm #

            I can understand you about the benchmark thing! Cucumber could be equal to that as well. You’re right, you have to see it for yourself. I’ll be happy to show you some great fruit & vegetable markets in Iran.

          • Jenny Freedman January 16, 2015 at 11:07 pm #

            I hadn’t thought of using the cucumber! Don’t be surprised if I take you up on your offer one day. I only visited Tehran when I was there so I’d love to go back there and see the rest of the country. I’ve just been looking at your web site..very informative!

  2. N J Magas January 15, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

    I love open markets! They’re one of my favorite places to visit when traveling. (Museums and open nature being the other two.)

    • Jenny Freedman January 16, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

      I’m a market lover to Nicky. They tell you so much about a city or village’s culture and food. It’s also a great way to meet the locals and quiz them on what they recommend in their town!

  3. Rhonda Albom January 17, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

    Fantastic photos, although I could have lived without seeing the pig 🙂 When we were in Spain, and in Morocco, we saw markets with tons of olives, but it was nothing compared to what you have here. Wow.

    • Jenny Freedman January 17, 2015 at 11:06 pm #

      Thanks Rhonda. Sorry about the pig…it was one of the milder photos! The meat market is not for everyone as one of the girls in our group found out! The olives were sensational. I remember the Moroccan olives…they’re pretty good but the choices here were definitely outstanding!

  4. Uptourist February 6, 2015 at 9:35 am #

    Wow they have lemons. In my country, lemons are quite hard to find. We have to go to a grocery to find one. You cannot see any of them in a public market.

    • Jenny Freedman February 10, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

      That’s amazing. I thought lemons were available everywhere. Are there any other fruits or vegetables that are hard to find. is there a lot of produce available at the markets or is it quite limited.

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